Spring is finally upon us, and our small ruminant producers have welcomed many new lambs and kids into the world! As babies continue to be born, we thought it would be a great time to review some concepts regarding lamb and kid processing.
Tail Docking Lambs:
If lambs are being tail docked, we highly recommend doing this before 1 week of age.
If banding tails with a rubber ring, appropriate pain control should be used – injectable Metacam or oral meloxicam are good options.
It is currently recommended to dock tails no shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold or so that the tail covers the vulva and the equivalent length for rams.
Rubber rings should not be used for tail docking lambs older than 6 weeks of age.
Older lambs can have their tails surgically docked by a veterinarian.
Castration can be done via rubber rings, Burdizzo clamp, or surgical.
Castration with rubber rings is highly recommended to be done before 1 week of age.
Appropriate pain control should be used (injectable Metacam or oral meloxicam).
Local anesthetic can also be administered into the testicles and spermatic cord for additional pain control.
It is highly recommended to administer tasvax at the time of banding to protect against tetanus.
Surgical castration by a veterinarian is recommended for lambs and kids older than 12 weeks of age.
Disbudding Goat Kids:
Hot iron disbudding is the only acceptable method of disbudding goats.
Disbudding should be performed no later than 21 days of age (horn bud attachment to the skull can occur anywhere from 7-21 days of age).
Appropriate pain control should be used (injectable Metacam or oral meloxicam).
Sedation +/- diluted local anesthesia is highly recommended for additional pain control.
Goat kids have very thin skulls. The iron must not be held on the head for longer than 10 seconds at a time. If needing additional burning time, wait for the area to cool or use icepacks on the area before attempting to burn again.
Please Join Us in Welcoming Two New Client Care Representatives!
This year has been a busy one already and our UGVS Team is growing again! Primarily in our Arthur location we are welcoming Teresa and Rachelle to our Administration Team. We are very excited to have Rachelle and Teresa joining our team and we can’t wait for you to meet them!
During the holiday season, there are many opportunities to reflect on the year gone by, and even more opportunities to look ahead at the possibilities of the new year. Often, we come up with resolutions; “I’m going to eat better”, “I’m going to be more patient”, “I’m going to reach that milestone”, we say to ourselves and our loved ones, but how often do we make these formal commitments to our business? We invite you to think about what resolutions you have for 2023. Do you want to wean more healthy calves? Do you want to reach 40 Kg of milk/cow/day? Maybe you want to finally surpass the provincial pregnancy rate average? The team at UGVS is excited to hear your herd’s goals and find ways for you to achieve those resolutions. We have the know-how, creativity, and the drive to help your resolutions become reality.
This year, the UGVS team reflects on an amazing year. Our team growth has blown us away and we are so excited with how well our new vets have fit into the practice. We have found new ways to help clients raise healthier calves, deal with disease outbreaks and even guide new farmers to success in their first year homesteading. We revisited our core values and are proud that our identity is still rooted in progressive, passionate, invested, and trusted veterinary care.
So, what are UGVS’ resolutions? We resolve to meet and exceed the standard of care that you have come to know and trust. We promise to build and improve our knowledge and services in order to adapt to the needs of your ever-growing business. We commit to celebrating your growth and rolling up our sleeves with you when times get tough. We know the future of animal agriculture is bright, as evident in all the great things we accomplish with our biggest partners in animal health: You.
Merry Christmas, Warm Holiday Wishes, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year – The UGVS Team.
Neonatal Lamb Care in the Winter Months
By: Dr. Megan Jamieson
The cold winter months are upon us and for some of our producers, newborn lambs will be coming and facing the challenge of cold temperatures and potentially harsh climate. During this time of year, we can see an increase in neonatal lamb death due to hypothermia (chilling) and hypoglycemia (starvation).
Lambs rely on their own limited supply of body fat stores (brown fat) as well as a consistent supply of milk from the dam to create energy and heat for survival.
Ensuring newborn lambs are clean and dry as soon as possible will greatly increase survival rates.
Newborn lambs should be up and eating within the first 2 hours of life.
It is recommended that a newborn lamb receive 50ml/kg (~23mL/lb) in the first 2 hours of life and a total of 200ml/kg (~90ml/lb) in the first day.
Normal temperature of a lamb is 39˚C-40˚C (102˚F-104˚F).
Tube feeder (a large catheter tip syringe + red rubber feeding tube work great!)
Frozen colostrum &/or colostrum replacer
Heat lamps, warming boxes, lamb coats, dry towels
Bottle(s) of 50% dextrose
Signs of MILD hypothermia/hypoglycemia:
Actions to take:
Temperature of 37˚C-39˚C (98˚F-102˚F)
Dull, weak lamb that is still able to stand. “Hunched” stance.
Weak suckle reflex, but can still swallow
Ensure lamb is dry and moved to a warm, sheltered environment.
Tube feed colostrum (from dam or colostrum replacer) – give 50ml/kg then split 200ml/kg over 3 more feedings within the first 24 hours.
Signs of SEVERE hypothermia/hypoglycemia:
Actions to take:
Temperature below 37˚C (98˚F)
Severely depressed or recumbent
No suckle or swallow reflex
Very cold mouth
Ensure lamb is dry and moved to a warm, sheltered environment.
If not suckling → intraperitoneal dextrose injection (10ml/kg of a 2:3 ratio of 50% dextrose:sterile or boiled water)
Tube feed colostrum only when suckle reflex returns
With autumn upon us, it is an opportune time to ensure your cows are healthy and prepared for the cold months ahead, and stocker calves are ready for sales. Here are some advantages to a veterinary visit this month
Pregnancy diagnosis of cows
simple and inexpensive, can be done 28 days after breeding
finding open cows early will save you on feed costs and improve inventory of forages; it is often economic to cull an open cow and not compound expenses into the following breeding season
Consider a breeding soundness exam on your bull to ensure he will be productive instead of taking a risk with time
calves are vulnerable and undergo many stresses with weaning, castration, weather, shipping and going to stockyards; vaccinate for respiratory disease before these events and split up the stressors to keep calves healthy
Vaccinated, dehorned, castrated, and dewormed calves bring better sales price
Protect your pregnant cows from aborting or developing respiratory disease
Strategic Deworming for cattle
Intestinal parasites have peak burdens in July/August; deworming 90% of the herd can reduce the parasite load and allow weight gain before winter, while leaving a percentage of nonresistant worms in the herd
Parasites can hibernate in cattle over the winter and cause disease in the spring; deworming this fall can help keep cattle healthy and conditioned next spring
Dehorned animals are safer to handle, and prevent injuries to other animals
We provide pain medication and local anesthetic to keep the process humane and less stressful
Call Now Before the Snow Flies!
Bovine Leukemia Virus Otherwise Known as Leukosis
By: Dr. Mike Scolaro
With DFO bulk tank results coming out, a lot of producers are surprised to find how high the prevalence of many of those diseases are in their herd. BLV (Bovine Leukemia Virus) prevalence may be particularly shocking and leaves many wondering what the implications of high seroprevalence within the herd.
Does it matter? The hard and fast of it is that each case of Leukosis is estimated to steal $635 from your bottom line. This cost results mainly from ‘silent’ loss of milk, increased culling risk, and replacement costs. Though the cost of this disease is significant, it is important to consider if BLV is the bottleneck in your herd, and whether its’ control is a top priority for management of your herd.
How is BLV spread? Any introduction of white blood cells from a BLV positive animal to a naive animal. This can come from biting flies, reuse of needles, and reuse of palpation sleeves. Other sources of transmission that aren’t as commonly thought of that may transmit the virus include saw or gouge dehorners, tattoo pliers, ear taggers, and/or hoof knives. Using fresh needles for each cow is the number one way to prevent cow-to-cow spread. However, BLV can also be spread from an infected dam to calves in the form of colostrum or milk. Colostrum replacer or use of colostrum from confirmed seronegative cows is recommended; likewise with milk; feeding of waste milk also brings high risk of transmission. Control and elimination are incredibly difficult and frustrating, often involving the testing of animals and culling of seropositive cows and heifers. New entrants to the herd need to be quarantined and test negative, making inventory management more challenging.
Is elimination of BLV realistic? For most herds the complete eradication of this virus is not economically sound or feasible. With this being said, do measures to reduce the spread and herd prevalence make sense for you? That is something for your herd management and animal health team to discuss. Actively managing BLV is a marathon, not a sprint! Talk to your herd vet about management decisions that work for your herd, and what UGVS can do to help you meet your herd’s goals.
How to Perform a Health Check on Your Chickens
By: Dr. Angela Tiessen
Backyard chickens have become increasingly popular in recent years for a number of reasons, including their low maintenance nature, and the fact that they produce a source of food close to home. Chickens are very good at hiding when they are sick, often hiding it until it is too late to treat them. This is why it is important to observe your flock daily, and check for the most common health problems.
Overall health check: check to make sure your flock is exhibiting normal behaviours (eating, drinking, dust bathing, digging, etc.), and that no chickens are isolating themselves from the flock or remaining in the same spot for the majority of the day. From a distance, you can also monitor for signs of loose stool stuck to their feathers and look for changes in comb colour. The comb colour varies throughout the day, but if you are consistently seeing a pale comb or anything out of the ordinary, this can be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Eyes and beak: check for any abnormal discharge, swelling around the eyes, or squinting. These symptoms can signal an underlying respiratory disease.
Feathers and skin: look for any changes in the colour or shine of the feathers, or abnormal feather loss not associated with moulting. If you are able, part the feathers to look for any signs of mites or lice. These will be visible as small bugs present on the skin that can be seen moving around.
Legs and feet: look for any thickening of the scales or swelling on the bottom of the feet as these are signs of scaly leg mites or bumblefoot.
If you see anything that is concerning you, feel free to call our office at 519-767-9191 to book either a telemedicine appointment or farm visit to discuss your findings and come up with a treatment plan.
Secure your next calf crop and boost bull productivity!
By: Dr. Byan Hicks
The bull breeding soundness exam involves 3 distinct assessments. First, the external genitalia are evaluated, specifically the scrotum and the testicles. The scrotum is examined for scarring and symmetry. The testicles must move freely in the scrotum, which is critical for temperature regulation, and sperm quality. ‘Up in the cold, down in the heat’! The temperature is important in semen production. The testicles are examined for lumps, bumps, and uniformity. They are checked for firmness as soft testicles are usually degenerating. The testicles are then measured for size by taping around the outside scrotum over the greatest mass. This is referred to as a scrotal circumference and is an indicator of serving capacity and age of sexual maturity of his offspring. Each breed has their own guidelines for minimum acceptable measurements based on age of the bull.
The second area of exam is the internal reproductive organs. In the bull we are able to palpate the prostrate and the seminal vesicles. Again, it is the size and any swellings or masses that we are concerned with. Bulls are very susceptible to infections of the seminal vesicles, but also respond quite readily to treatment once detected. Detecting abnormalities is imperative to the productivity and longevity of a bull in your herd!
Lastly, the veterinarian evaluates a semen sample from the bull. Yearling and young bulls quite often will donate a sample for examination while the pelvic exam is being performed. Older bulls will donate as well with a longer time massage of the seminal vesicles. This is referred to as manual collection. For those bulls that don’t want to cooperate we have an electronic method of collection which is exactly as it sounds. Once collected, the semen is examined under a microscope for movement (motility), normality (morphology) and percent alive. In any sample not every sperm is normal, alive, and moving normally BUT if the percentages are high enough then the bull receives a pass. If a detailed certificate is required, the sample is stained, and the numbers recorded.
Why semen evaluate your bull? Young bulls need to be proven semen providers. Approximately 10% fail the test. Older proven bulls will undergo changes during the winter months that affect semen quality. It’s better to find these problems before the breeding season, rather than at fall pregnancy check time.
Have any interest to have a veterinarian out to perform a breeding soundness exam on your farm? Please call our office to schedule an appointment!
What can an RVT do?
A Registered Veterinary Technician is also known as being a nurse for animals, but did you know they can do so much more? Though they cannot diagnose diseases, they are an essential part of the team at vet clinics and a valuable asset to producers. Below is a list of some of the different tasks/roles a RVT can do.
Blood sampling on calves; monitoring Total Protein to assess passive transfer of immunity
Perform nonsurgical castration
Lab work; running fecal tests and bloodwork
Administer reproductive hormones and vaccines
Body Condition Scoring of cows
Herd Health data entry
Developing templates for calf records
Assisting veterinarians with CFIA charting and submissions
If you have further questions regarding what an RVT can do for your herd, please contact our office to have these questions addressed!
Meet Our Two Newest Members!
Dr. Mike Scolaro
Some of you may have gotten a chance to meet Mike already, he started with the Upper Grand Veterinary Services team early May 2022. Mike is passionate about working with producers to help them maximize the health of animals and economic returns on-farm. Graduating the Ontario Veterinary College in 2022, Mike focused on bovine medicine, with a keen interest in problem solving and consulting. A significant portion of his clinical year was spent in western Canada, learning beef and dairy medicine from the best in Alberta and British Colombia. Mike’s drive and vision have already been recognized by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, and in 2020 he was awarded the Amstutz Scholarship for his character, knowledge, experience, and motivation to become an outstanding bovine veterinarian. Mike’s attitude towards production medicine is “to make the world a better place for people and the animals we work with”. Mike currently lives in Guelph, and when not working, can be found hiking, cycling, and running with his dog, Dora.
Dr. Megan Jamieson
We welcome back Megan Jamieson early this June as she starts her veterinary career. Megan is a 2022 graduate from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She grew up on the Six Nations Reservation in Ontario and received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Guelph in 2016. Megan is very passionate about bovine and small ruminant medicine with specific interest in reproduction, herd health, and milk quality. Her passion for agriculture began after working on multiple dairy farms and a purebred sheep farm in Ontario prior to applying for vet school. During her vet school career, Megan gained a tremendous amount of experience working with livestock operations in Michigan, Idaho, New York, Alberta, and Ontario. She is excited to bring all of the knowledge and experience she has gained in her travels back home to help producers in Ontario. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, cottaging, working out, live music, and spending as much time as she can with family and friends.
Lambing and kidding season is upon us! This time of year brings many opportunities; the opportunity to improve and expand your flock, but also the opportunity to encounter the many potential problems associated with newborns and heavily pregnant animals. Proper management up to and after birth can help ensure good health of ewes and does, which will in turn set the new lambs and kids up for a healthy and productive life. In this article we will discuss the various complications that can arise during this season, as well as how to prevent or address them.
In the last four weeks of gestation, ewes and does are in a period of high energy demand from fetal growth, while also having limited internal space and decreased rumen capacity. This predisposes them to some prepartum complications including vaginal prolapses and pregnancy toxemia. Females who are either over conditioned (BCS ≥ 4) and/or are carrying multiple fetuses are at the highest risk.
Vaginal prolapses present as a red mass of tissue at the vulva and can range in size from a baseball up to a basketball. If any prolapses are observed that do not disappear once the ewe or doe returns to standing, or if any trauma or damage is noted, veterinary intervention is often required. This can include replacing the prolapse and placing a stitch to prevent further prolapsing prior to birth. Any females that prolapse are likely to prolapse again during their next pregnancy and should not be re-bred.
Pregnancy toxemia occurs when an ewe or doe is in a negative energy balance during late gestation, meaning that their energy needs are greater than the energy they are consuming. To compensate, they mobilize their fat stores which leads to a build-up of ketone bodies (a by-product of fat metabolism) in their blood. Signs of the early stages of pregnancy toxemia include a decreased appetite and more time spent lying down. As the disease progresses, muscle tremors, grinding of the teeth, and aimless walking may also be noted. Early veterinary intervention and treatment is necessary, as advanced cases of pregnancy toxemia have a poor prognosis.
Fortunately, both conditions can be prevented with adequate nutrition and appropriate feeder design. Any feeder that encourages reaching upwards or perching/climbing with the front feet can increase the likelihood of a vaginal prolapse due to the increased abdominal pressure associated with these motions and the effect of gravity. Adequate nutrition ensures that ewes and does have the energy they require to maintain a healthy pregnancy without having to mobilize significant amounts of fat stores.
The last 4 weeks of gestation are also important for udder development and colostrum production. To ensure the production of good quality colostrum, vaccination for clostridial diseases is recommended a few weeks before lambing or kidding is due to commence. If the females have not been vaccinated within the last year, they will also require an initial vaccine 4-6 weeks prior.
Birth and neonatal care
Ewes and does should be checked regularly when they are approaching their due date and while they are giving birth to determine whether intervention is required. Signs that an ewe or doe may need help include lack of regular progress, abnormal presentation (i.e., one leg, two legs with no head, head with no legs, etc.), or any yellow colour noted as this indicates fetal stress. If any of these signs are noted, a vaginal exam and/or a call to the vet is warranted to ensure the best chance of survival.
Once born, lambs and kids are susceptible to chilling, infection from pathogens in the environment, and hypoglycemia (starvation). To reduce these risks, ensure that your lambing/kidding areas are clean, dry, and draft-free. After birth, the newborns should receive an appropriate navel dip (i.e., tincture of iodine), and the mother and newborns should then be moved to a claiming pen. Claiming pens allow close monitoring to ensure timely drying off/cleaning of the newborns, consumption of colostrum, and maternal bonding. Once bonding has occurred, lambs and kids should receive a vitamin E/selenium injection for prevention of white muscle disease and can have bands applied for castration and tail docking.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call the office at 519-767-9191 to speak with a vet and determine the best course of action. We are always happy to discuss any individual cases or flock level questions you may have!
We understand the frustration with needing a product and it is not available.
We appreciate the support and are trying to ensure we get you the product you want or a substitute as soon as we can. If possible, try to look ahead at what you may need so we can try to get it to you prior to running out. Getting product orders in early also allows us to try to accommodate product delivery.
Join us as we congratulate Dr. Mike on his Award of Associate of the Year
The OVMA Associate of the Year Award recognizes an associate veterinarian who has demonstrated superior customer service and has proven to be an asset to their practice, as well as their community.
Following graduation from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2014, Dr. Michael Krystolovich honed his skills at two clinics before joining Upper Grand Veterinary Services in Guelph, Ont., in 2017, where his main areas of interest are dairy herd problem solving, nutrition and surgery.
Colleagues say that Dr. Krystolovich routinely and successfully tackles whatever problem is put in front of him and has solved many complicated herd-level problems for clients through his determination and compassion. In fact, his commitment to being the best veterinarian he can be is evident in everything he does.
“Whether it is reception, technician, student or veterinarian, Mike patiently mentors them equally with kindness and skill,” says Dr. Rob Swackhammer, practice owner at Upper Grand Veterinary Services. “His kind guidance is invaluable to this clinic. He has been described by our practice manager as the glue that holds this clinic together. I could not agree more.”
Dr. Krystolovich is also an OMAFRA-appointed food safety veterinarian and regularly holds presentations for local farm producers in his community.
“He is knowledgeable, always on time, patient, and truly cares about his work as he constantly rises above and beyond our expectations,” says one of his clients, who operates a dairy farm. “Following every visit on farm, he never fails to ask if there is anything else he can help with or do for us. One of the things that sets Dr. Mike apart is his care and dedication for people, not just for the livestock.”
Meet Our Newest Team Member – Welcome Jen!
Jen moved to Guelph in 2007 to attend the University of Guelph where she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology.
Over the years, she has worked in numerous industries where she has strengthened her customer service and office administration skills to make her easily adaptable to this new, and unique, experience working for Upper Grand Veterinary Services. Jen will be working Front Reception at the Guelph office over the next year and is looking forward to meeting our clients!